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Entrepreneur of the week

Lago Medical Supplies by Julia Nambinga

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“Go for it and give it your all, always! Allow failure to be your stepping stone to reaching your goals and dreams.”

Julia Nambinga is a fifth-year Medical student, entrepreneur and the founder of Lago Medical Supplies.

Born and bred in the northern part of Namibia, Julia attended primary school in Ongwediva at Charles Anderson and later on moved to the Oshikoto region to attend and complete her secondary education at Oshigambo High School.

Upon completion of high school, Julia was drawn to the field of Medicine. She consequently applied and received admission to study towards a Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery at the University of Namibia. She is currently in her 5th, and second last, year of her studies.

With a passion for her field and the keen eye of an entrepreneur, Julia started a venture that would provide a solution to a problem faced by her peers and fellow health professionals – and so, Lago Medical Supplies was born.

Tell us about Lago Medical Supplies, when you founded it, what inspired you to start this business, the products and/or services you offer as well as the team behind your start-up.

“Lago Medical Supplies (LMS) is a growing medical supplies company that was founded in 2018. It is a female-led start-up company that aims to provide affordable and high-quality healthcare wear and equipment to health professionals in Namibia.

In 2019, 19-year-old Annely Ipangelwa, an alumnus of St. Paul’s College as well as their former head girl, was added onto the team. Initially, she joined the team as my assistant and eventually she was promoted to Managing Director. She has been a phenomenal addition to the team!

Being a medical student at the time, I saw that there was a need for medical attire and how availability & affordability was an issue, seeing that the only retailer was based on the other side of town and costs were not accommodating to students. 

I identified the niche in catering for the growing population of Medical Students in Namibia as well as all health professionals alike. The idea was to create a system that is easily accessible to anyone across the country, allowing them to purchase items at the tip of their fingertips and have it delivered to their doorstep in the blink of an eye. 

Currently, goods provided by LMS include:

  • an assortment of medical scrubs,
  • lab coats,
  • stethoscopes,
  • oximeters,
  • penlights,
  • digital BP machines,
  • thermometers,
  • crocs and slide ins.

LMS is currently in the process of branching into oxygen flow meters, clinical supplies and an array of other medical related items.”

What challenges have you encountered on your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome some of them?

“One of the biggest challenges I faced was juggling both medical school and running a business efficiently. However, this was mostly overcome by being transparent and communicating with clients when inconveniences set in. I am also surrounded by a good team that is willing to push and overcome any obstacles we face.

The interaction between my career and my business is both antagonistic and synergistic. The demanding nature of both positions has been my greatest challenge, but being on the ground and leveling with health professionals has provided me with immeasurable insight.

I always tell the story, that you only know what your customers need once you put yourselves in their shoes. Luckily and unluckily for me, I am in their shoes.”

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?

“Go for it and give it your all, always! Allow failure to be your stepping stone to reaching your goals and dreams.”

Do you have a business philosophy? If so, what is it?

“Yes, to diligently deliver timely and efficient customer service, and to continuously improve on our skills and knowledge as a business.”

One often hears of poor customer service & experiences in start-ups; what measures do you have in place to ensure the best experience for your customers?

“Of importance to us is communication with clients whenever inconveniences set in and always making time to listen and try to meet their needs as much as we can. Of course some things are beyond our control but we believe constant communication with clients is very important.

As a team we have regular meetings and discuss our interactions with customers whether positive or negative. We brainstorm on how these interactions can be improved or enhanced, and in conditions of excellent customer service, we discuss how we can recreate these experiences.

Customer satisfaction, like most things, is extremely subjective and we’ve learnt that communicating expectations and capacities on both the sides of service delivery and service receipt helps enhance satisfaction tenfold.”

How do you see charity and nonprofit work overlapping with your business?

“We  stand by the biblical belief that the more you stretch out your hand to give, the more you make space for what’s to come. With that said, at the moment we are donating a certain portion of profits from some of our items towards raising funds to provide sanitary towels for the less privileged.

In the future, the idea is to give back to students most especially those who are struggling with necessities as being a student comes with a number of challenges. As our business grows we intend to give in alignment to our growth. It is of great importance to inject into our communities what is injected into our business.”

In 2020, entrepreneurs lived through a tumultuous period with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic; what was your biggest business lesson that you can share?

“Being a business that is within one of the few industries that saw a significant expansion since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is safe to say that our services have been needed more than we expected.

For example, the provision of pulse oximeters was greatly fueled by their increased need in monitoring affected patients. The comfort of health workers during the never-ending and daunting shifts in the COVID Wards raised the discussion around comfortable attire among them and we responded by introducing footwear that is durable and increases comfort. 

It is safe to say our biggest lesson has been flexibility and endurance in trying times. When demand was high, but our output was decreased due to lockdowns, it felt almost impossible to reach the finish line; but banding together as a team and practicing patience was extremely beneficial in keeping us afloat.”

Email: lagomedicalsupplies@gmail.com

Cell: +264 81 785 5400

Facebook: Lago Medical Supplies

Instagram: @lago_medical_supplies

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